RETURN OF THE BRUCE COUNTY KING
by Dale Hainer
photos by Rick & Chris Dwinnell
Lake Huron was named by French fur traders for the Huron Indians, who occupied southern Ontario’s mid-western regions in the 17th century. Encompassing 22,000 square miles of surface water, it’s the second largest Great Lake and the world’s third largest freshwater lake. King salmon are named for their royal position as the largest salmon species in North America.
I have had a life long love affair with Bruce County Chinook Salmon fishing. Originally stocked in the Great Lakes to reduce an overwhelming Alewife population, natural reproduction and volunteer hatchery efforts have allowed the Chinook “King” Salmon to maintain a respectable presence in the region.
King Salmon live for four years. Being born in rivers (or in a hatchery and released in a river), they travel and feed in the open waters off Bruce county until their fourth year when they return to spawn and die. This cycle ensures that every year, medium size Kings are available to offshore anglers during the spring and summer months and to shore and stream anglers in late summer and fall. “The Chinook have been showing up bigger every year” says Rick Dwinnell of Dwindles Dream Fishing Charters out of Kincardine. “ This past season we have seen many fall fish in the 20 – 25 pound range again”
There was an Alewife population crash in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay in 2003 which severely impacted the Lake Huron Chinook populations. In the past decade, bait-fish populations have recovered, salmon health has increased dramatically and the numbers of salmon have become respectable again mainly through the efforts of the Lake Huron Fishing Club and their salmon hatchery located in Port Elgin.
Dwinnell and his son Chris troll the waters off Kincardine to Sauble Beach chasing down the schools of returning Kings. “By late summer, the salmon start to congregate off shore near the river mouths” says Dwinnell. A variety of lures bring these hard fighting fish to the boat including spoon lures such as Northern Kings, Silver Streaks and Hot-fish. Chris pointed to specific colours such as green/green, purple/blue and black silver.
Lake Huron has very clear water which calls for a slight change in fishing strategy when trolling for these easily spooked fish. “You have to get your lures out and away from the boat” says Dwinnell. “We favour the use of Dipsy Divers and Planer boards and have had great success now with Lead Core fishing Line”
Planer boards are a fishing accessory that gets your lure as far as 100 feet out horizontally from your boat. Dipsy Divers, when attached directly to your line, can be set to dive down and away from your boat. Lead Core is a speciality fishing line that sinks fast and is run back 120 – 150 feet behind the boat with a lure attached.
As Salmon begin to enter the Penetangore, Saugeen and Sauble rivers by early fall, anglers find good fishing from the piers and by wading in the rivers. Preference is to cast spoons or drift an egg sack or imitation there-of below a float.
A Tyee salmon is a King Salmon that exceeds 30 pounds. “We have not seen one in this area for a while, but we are getting close again” says Dwinnell. A Tyee is often considered to be a King salmon that for some biological reason, has lived on into a fifth year, growing larger than normal.
The daily catch limit of Bruce county salmon is five with a regular fishing licence and two with a conservation fishing licence. Buy your fishing licence now online